Tag: politics (page 2 of 14)

Assume that your devices are compromised

I was in Catalonia in 2017 during the independence referendum. The way that people were treated when trying to exercise democratic power I still believe to be shameful.

These days, I run the most secure version of an open operating system on my mobile device that I can. And yet I still need to assume it’s been compromised.

In Catalonia, more than sixty phones—owned by Catalan politicians, lawyers, and activists in Spain and across Europe—have been targeted using Pegasus. This is the largest forensically documented cluster of such attacks and infections on record. Among the victims are three members of the European Parliament, including Solé. Catalan politicians believe that the likely perpetrators of the hacking campaign are Spanish officials, and the Citizen Lab’s analysis suggests that the Spanish government has used Pegasus. A former NSO employee confirmed that the company has an account in Spain. (Government agencies did not respond to requests for comment.) The results of the Citizen Lab’s investigation are being disclosed for the first time in this article. I spoke with more than forty of the targeted individuals, and the conversations revealed an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust. Solé said, “That kind of surveillance in democratic countries and democratic states—I mean, it’s unbelievable.”


[T]here is evidence that Pegasus is being used in at least forty-five countries, and it and similar tools have been purchased by law-enforcement agencies in the United States and across Europe. Cristin Flynn Goodwin, a Microsoft executive who has led the company’s efforts to fight spyware, told me, “The big, dirty secret is that governments are buying this stuff—not just authoritarian governments but all types of governments.”


The Citizen Lab’s researchers concluded that, on July 7, 2020, Pegasus was used to infect a device connected to the network at 10 Downing Street, the office of Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A government official confirmed to me that the network was compromised, without specifying the spyware used. “When we found the No. 10 case, my jaw dropped,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab, recalled. “We suspect this included the exfiltration of data,” Bill Marczak, another senior researcher there, added. The official told me that the National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of British intelligence, tested several phones at Downing Street, including Johnson’s. It was difficult to conduct a thorough search of phones—“It’s a bloody hard job,” the official said—and the agency was unable to locate the infected device. The nature of any data that may have been taken was never determined.

Source: How Democracies Spy On Their Citizens | The New Yorker

Declining trust in society isn’t just a ‘vibe shift’

This is a wide-ranging and somewhat jumbled article which nevertheless has at its core a key point about the decline in trust in society. That’s not just a ‘vibe shift’ but a more permanent and worrying state of affairs.

Consider the Edelman Trust Barometer. The public relations firm has been conducting an annual global survey measuring public confidence in institutions since 2000. Its 2022 report, which found that distrust is now “society’s default emotion,” recorded a trend of collapsing faith in institutions such as government or media.


It’s difficult to imagine how trust in national governments can be repaired. This is not, on the face of it, apocalyptic. The lights are on and the trains run on time, for the most part. But civic trust, the stuff of nation-building, believing that governments are capable of improving one’s life, seems to have dimmed.

Source: What You’re Feeling Isn’t A Vibe Shift. It’s Permanent Change. | BuzzFeed News

E2EE is for everyone

Not only has the current UK government underfunded the NHS since coming to power in an attempt to introduce market-based medicine, orchestrated the unprecedented national self-sabotage that is Brexit, and attacked the BBC, but they’re also trying to convince the British public that end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is only wanted by paedophiles.

The hypocrisy of it knows no bounds. These are the same politicians who rely on the E2EE of WhatsApp, Signal, and other messaging services to plot against one another and society in general.

Critics sometimes claim that encryption makes it impossible to subpoena or obtain a warrant for information from people’s phones — this is bizarre because governments already demand such data. What they are actually complaining about is that the “platform” — for instance Facebook — no longer wants to be able to see the content themselves. The warrant will have to be served upon the device owner, not upon the (social) network provider.

Good security demands that data that we share amongst family and friends should remain available only to those family and friends; and likewise that data which we share with businesses should remain only with those businesses, and should only be used for agreed business purposes.

Network providers — and, importantly, messaging-network and social-network providers — are helping their users obtain better data security by cutting themselves off from the ability to access plaintext content. Simply: they don’t need to see it, and it’s not their job to police or censor it. Their adoption of end-to-end encryption makes everyone’s data safer.

The world needs end-to-end encryption. It needs more of it. We need the privacy, agency, and control over data that end-to-end encryption enables. And encryption is needed everywhere and by everyone — not just by politicians and police forces.

Source: Why we need #EndToEndEncryption and why it’s essential for our safety, our children’s safety, and for everyone’s future #noplacetohide | dropsafe